The District of Columbia is about a month away from having to pay five cents a pop for its plastic bags, and some details are yet to be worked out.

Such as: What about the self-checkout facilities increasingly populating city supermarkets—-how are they going to work with the bag fee? After all, there’s no human to control the bagging process there. Who’s to stop some earth-hating customer from triple bagging his junk and absconding with 45 cents worth of free polyethylene?

Human oversight? Defeats the point of self-checkout. Honor system? Would certainly be dishonored. Complicated technological contraption? That would be complicated.

City Desk phoned the two largest operators of self-checkout facilities in the District—-Safeway and Giant. Neither, according to their respective spokespersons, have yet figured out how to implement the bag fee at self-checkouts.

Safeway spokesperson Craig Muckle describes a behind-the-scenes Manhattan Project-like effort at his employer. Corporate executives have had several meetings on the matter, he says, and are close to working out a solution.

Though Muckle says he’s been in on the talks, he declines any of the possibilities in detail—-though he does mention that a solution icould pontentially involve human employees who are currently tasked with overseeing the self-checkout stands at Safeway stores.

Same goes for Giant. That dominant local grocer is also undecided on a solution to the self-checkout quandary, spokesperson Kim Brown says: “We are working on a couple of different options, but we’ll definitely have a system in place.”

Brown, too, declines to details what those options might be. But she gives some parameters: “We’re hoping that it’s going to be simple for customers to use and easy for us to track.”

Read: They have no idea! PANIC!

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